After a hectic year, TV star and singer Jane McDonald can’t wait to spend quality time with her long-term partner and love of her life, Eddie Rothe, this Christmas.
And the 56-year-old says being together by themselves over the festive period will be the perfect gift, especially as they have to spend large parts of the year apart, thanks to her busy schedule filming her hit Channel 5 cruising series.
‘I adore Christmas,’ confides Jane as she settles down to chat. ‘I’m having Christmas Day off and I can’t wait! This year, it’ll be Ed and me on our own at home.
‘We will get a little present for each other, but all I want for Christmas this year is some time with him. He will do the cooking, we’ll put a good box set on, and we’ll watch a bit of telly. Being at home is a special time for us. It is our private time together.’
Jane and Eddie were once childhood sweethearts and, as she reflects on why their relationship works so well, Jane says the fact they have so much in common is a big factor. ‘He is very funny and he makes me laugh every day,’ she explains.
‘He also brings me a cup of tea every morning, no matter what. I am married to my job and that is difficult for anyone, but Ed lets me go off and do what I need to do.’
Jane says they have both got used to the fact she does have to go off travelling for many weeks at a time. ‘The only downside of the cruising series is the fact it takes a lot of time to do it,’ she admits. ‘The travel and the filming mean it’s not a holiday. I am also up at the crack of dawn every day and it can be exhausting. But I feel incredibly lucky to have a job I enjoy, and one that is so exhilarating.’
It’s Eddie who Jane turns to whenever she needs some advice on work, whether that is her TV commitments, singing or touring. She has also just published her book Riding the Waves: My Story, in which she is very open about the ups and downs she has endured throughout her life, including growing up feeling insecure as a child, two marital breakdowns and the death of her parents.
But it is, she stresses, also a story of how, when one door has been shut in her face, another has opened. ‘I never get the balance right,’ she chuckles. ‘But what I know is, I never see anything as bad. There have been a few stormy waters along the way but I’m grateful I can now sit back and reflect on what I want to do.’
A great believer in letting things happen naturally, Jane is understandably very proud of everything she has accomplished. ‘If I could tell my 18-year-old self anything, it would be to not get so hung up about stuff,’ she laughs.
‘Every 18-year-old worries but I wish I hadn’t worried so much. And I know as a child, I didn’t like change. I didn’t even want to go on holiday – which now, when you think about what I do, is ironic! If I am also really honest, I struggled writing some of my book because going over big parts of my life was hard. I’m normally the type of person who focuses on the future rather than looking back on things.’
At 56, Jane is looking fantastic thanks to cutting down on sugar in her diet. She says it has also given her lots more energy, and it has made her realise it’s not worth caring about what other people think. ‘The 50s have been my best decade, without a shadow of a doubt,’ she muses. ‘You know yourself inside out and the older you get, the less you care!’
Not that she has much time to focus her energy on things like that anyway. With two arena shows, a Christmas DVD, her own cruise liner tour, a new book and her TV shows in the pipeline, Jane readily admits she has a crazy schedule. It’s the reason why she has always said ‘no’ to offers to do shows like Strictly Come Dancing or I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
‘I say no because I’m always booked up a year in advance,’ she explains. ‘I am booking next year now, and then the year after. We are in prep time at the moment for next year, which will be even more spectacular!’
And it doesn’t seem like she’s slowing down any time soon. She finishes, ‘I want to do as much as I possibly can, as there will come a time when I can’t do it when I’m older. Sometimes people have asked if I’m sure, but now, hopefully, I’m on the right track.’